By Kay Wyma
"Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty." ~ Sicilian proverb
"Um ... there's a hole in your pants."
My daughter, standing next to her truth-telling friend, slightly gasps. Together they try to stuff their snickers. I put my hand back to check. And sure enough, I had a rip in my pants. Not some slight dainty thing on a seam. No, a nice 2-inch flap on my left bum. It surprised me. Not that I'd have a hole (unfortunately I'm no stranger to wardrobe malfunction) but that an 11-year-old would be honest enough to tell an adult something potentially awkward, or dare I say, embarrassing.
But she did. And did so matter-of-factly.
This child's honesty revealed a lot about our relationship. She cared enough to tell me something that no one else had been brave enough to broach (I'm sure the hole had been there most of the day). Then, without judgment, she was sweet to open the door to laughter. Because really, what else can you do? Life is too short to cry about things like pant holes.
This child is not only my daughter's friend; but, as determined by her actions, she is also mine. The best friendships are based on honesty, authenticity, openness, trust and compassion-all of which we crave. But rarely do we feel safe enough to embrace them. Constantly worried about being accepted or scared of being hurt, we shy away from the very things that can knit us together. No matter the age, we fight feeling excluded, snubbed, ignored, and overlooked as we try to trust.
I often find myself telling my kids: "Friends aren't perfect. They can hurt us just like we can hurt them. Sometimes it's intentional, most of the time it's not. There are two things to remember: 1) If we were meant to be alone in the world, God would have stopped with Adam. 2) Lean into the anchor of complete acceptance and safety we have in Christ so you can be the best authentic friend you can be without worry of being tossed aside or laughed at. You've got The King watching over you. So, don't shy away from telling your friend the hard stuff or loving them when you're jealous. That's what real friends do."
Of course, ninety percent of the time, at this point, I've already gotten an eye-roll, but it's worth it. If the message doesn't stick with them, maybe it will stick with me.
So walking out of Fuddrucker's yesterday, it warmed my heart when one of my kids pointed out some lettuce caught in my teeth. As the rest of my brood walked up, we did it for each other. We were a mess. Literally.
Well, you have some pepper.
Oh, and there's cookie on your face.
Thanks (side whisper) your shorts need zipping.
To top it off, my ten-year-old boy squinted up at me and squealed, "Ewwww!" Then, while running away and pointing back at the stubborn lettuce remnant still lodged in my teeth, he added, "That's SOOOOO gross! (fake gag, fake gag) I think I'm going to barf!"
Well, at least he's my friend. Let's hope he can temper his friendship with couth someday . . . soon.
Kay Wyma, mother of five, is writes themoatblog.com so moms of adolescents & teens don't have to walk the road alone and is author of Cleaning House, A Mother's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement